Saints are hoping to spark a bidding war for Charlie Austin as they prepare to sell the striker this summer.

The forward, who turns 30 next week, has just one year left to run on his Saints contract and is a player manager Ralph Hasenhuttl is prepared to lose this summer as part of his squad overhaul.

Saints have already had positive noises of interest from newly promoted duo Sheffield Untied and Aston Villa and are believed to have told both clubs they will consider fair offers for Austin.

With Austin’s availability becoming public knowledge and the potential of multiple clubs trying to land him, Saints are optimistic they can drive up the price and get at least double the £4m they paid for him in January 2016.

That would be a good result for the club as they attempt to reduce their squad numbers during the summer while also adding a few quality new signings.

Austin’s reputation of being a goalscorer, and also one who is available for a low fee, was always likely to create interest, particularly among newly promoted sides who will not have the budget of more established top flight clubs.

In his three-and-a-half seasons with Saints, Austin has scored 20 times, and that despite only making 76 appearances with injuries and competition from other strikers limiting his chances.

It is understood that Austin is keen to secure regular first team football, something which Hasenhuttl cannot guarantee him at St Mary’s.

Hasenhuttl confirmed that he was prepared to allow Austin to leave in the January transfer window if there was a suitable offer that the player wanted to accept, and that is understood to remain the case now.

The Saints manager is keen to freshen up his attacking options this summer.

He has already completed the signing of £14m winger Moussa Djenepo and wants to recruit an out-and-out striker to add to the mix.

Saints have made Birmingham’s Che Adams their top target.

They have offered a deal worth around £14m for the 22-year-old striker.

Though the Blues have not accepted the offer, Saints haven’t entirely given up hope that the Championship club will agree to sell their star man.

But they are also adamant that they won’t be held to ransom over Adams given that Hasenhuttl also has several targets in mind or wait indefinitely as Birmingham decide what to do given the sacking of Garry Monk as manager.

For Saints, securing a timely deal is important.

If they feel Birmingham won’t budge or want to wait too long, then they will simply move on as Hasenhuttl wants business done early this summer rather than dragging deals on until the end of the transfer window.

Much could also depend on the player and how badly he wants a move.